When asked what draws them to Brisbane’s Anzac Day dawn service, people use the same words: Profound.
Solemn. Reverent. Duty.
“I just feel like everybody has some story to tell,” Coorparoo local Janet McDonald says.
Pinned to her woollen shawl, under the customary rosemary, is a picture of her grandfather who fought in the Battle of the Somme.
He would have toiled alongside his comrades on Turkey’s rugged Gallipoli peninsula but was diverted at the last minute.
While he survived the war, Janet says the ravages of combat still took their toll.
A shrapnel wound to his back sustained during fighting aggravated him until his death in 1935.
That’s partly why she felt compelled to join those at the CBD’s Shrine of Remembrance paying their respects.
“We don’t often get something profound in our lives – maybe once or twice when the Lions win at the Gabba,” she says with a smile.
It’s a similar sentiment from Anouska Vanderwilt, of Morningside, who turned up with friends in their cycling lycra.
More than Australia Day, she feels the Anzac commemorations command a respect and dignity that gives the country pause.
“It’s less about drinking and having a day off,” she says.
“I feel like it’s our duty.”
She says her sister was somewhere in the crowd, which was expected to number some 25,000 attendees including Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg and Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Graham Quirk.
Before the playing of the Last Post, Governor Paul de Jersey remarked in his address how the “sustained heroics deeds” of the Anzacs captured the public imagination.
More than 100 years on, he urged civilians to show similar sensitivity to modern-day soldiers carrying the psychological scars of service.
“We must not forget veterans whose war wounds are not readily visible,” he said.